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Universal and SpiralFrog are dancing to a different tune...and it's not playing on an iPod  (Source: launched its free ad-supported download service today, and there's some interesting quirks launched today, providing music fans with a legal avenue to download some free music.  The only catch -- the music is supported by the site's advertising revenues, so your clicks keep those tracks downloading.

Chairman and founder of New York-based SpiralFrog Inc., Joe Mohen announced "We believe [SpiralFrog] will be a very powerful alternative to the pirate sites, with SpiralFrog you know what you're getting ... there's no threat of viruses, adware or spyware."

The site, which has been beta tested for months, currently carries about 800,000 tracks and 3,500 music videos available for free download.  You must sign up for a free account and provide demographic information in order to gain access to the media.  You must also use your account each month in order to keep it active, which is intended to prevent users from simply downloading and not returning to the site.

The site intends to have over 2 million tracks available within the next several months.

Most of the media on the site is from Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group, the largest record company in the world, and the only music label to currently have jumped at SpiralFrog's business plan.

In July DailyTech reported that Vivendi had jumped ship from Apple's iTunes service, declining to renew their contract, deciding to seek revenue from alternative sources.  Now it appears that one such alternative source is SpiralFrog.

An interesting detail has emerged.  Files from SpiralFrog are digitally protected and can be played on mp3 players, but cannot be burned to CDs.  There is another minor detail, though -- the files cannot be played on Apple's wildly popular iPod MP3 players -- nor the less popular Microsoft Zune. 

SpiralFrog's frequently asked questions section states, "Songs and video files that you download from SpiralFrog are not compatible with Apple’s range of iPods or Microsoft’s Zune."

The move to not allow its content to be played on iPod's appears to be a clear snub by the Universal Music Group, similar to NBC's recent move of its television content from iTunes to  Apple has not commented on this development.

For many, though, presents an intriguing new business model that may present a legal alternative to file sharing or spending large amounts of money on CDs or paid download services, such as iTunes.

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RE: huh?
By afkrotch on 9/17/2007 7:02:39 PM , Rating: 2
It won't play, cause Apple is forcing users to use iTunes to import their music over. It's possible that these DRM songs aren't going to be support through iTunes, thus, won't make it over to an iPod.

RE: huh?
By Yortuk on 9/17/2007 7:57:18 PM , Rating: 2
No, Apple doesn't force anyone to use iTunes. You do not need iTunes to use an iPod.

RE: huh?
By UNCjigga on 9/19/2007 3:41:41 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately the new iPods *do* force users to manage music through iTunes (as reported by DailyTech). I tried using WinAmp + plugins to put music on my iPod before, but then I realized I just like the way iTunes manages music better.

RE: huh?
By otter111 on 9/17/2007 10:09:55 PM , Rating: 2
iPods don't only use DRM'd songs. I buy my music for my iPod through eMusic... all plain vanilla mp3's with no DRM. You can play AIFF files, lossless files... whatever. You're not forced to use iTunes.

RE: huh?
By audiomaniaca on 9/18/2007 7:02:51 PM , Rating: 2
Please explain me that. The reason I don't use ipods is exactly the dammed software called itunes. How can you "install" mp3s in the ipod without using it's proprietary and unfriendly software?

RE: huh?
By otter111 on 9/19/2007 2:16:57 PM , Rating: 2
iTunes on a PC is a pretty dodgy piece of software, it's true. I don't know why it's so poor in its PC version. On Mac, it's damn near perfect. But...

If you're on Linux, use Amarok or Songbird.

On a PC, check out for reviews of options.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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